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Nat Protoc. 2012 Jan 12;7(2):207-20. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2011.433.

A multispectral optical illumination system with precise spatiotemporal control for the manipulation of optogenetic reagents.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Optogenetics is an excellent tool for noninvasive activation and silencing of neurons and muscles. Although they have been widely adopted, illumination techniques for optogenetic tools remain limited and relatively nonstandardized. We present a protocol for constructing an illumination system capable of dynamic multispectral optical targeting of micrometer-sized structures in both stationary and moving objects. The initial steps of the protocol describe how to modify an off-the-shelf video projector by insertion of optical filters and modification of projector optics. Subsequent steps involve altering the microscope's epifluorescence optical train as well as alignment and characterization of the system. When fully assembled, the illumination system is capable of dynamically projecting multispectral patterns with a resolution better than 10 μm at medium magnifications. Compared with other custom-assembled systems and commercially available products, this protocol allows a researcher to assemble the illumination system for a fraction of the cost and can be completed within a few days.

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